God Pierces The Clouds With Sunshine

 

God can take away the clouds of despair. He replaces them with clouds of hope and promise. Clouds change, but God’s love for you will never change.

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Clouds and Darkness

From: Utmost.org

A person who has not been born again by the Spirit of God will tell you that the teachings of Jesus are simple. But when he is baptized by the Holy Spirit, he finds that “clouds and darkness surround Him….” When we come into close contact with the teachings of Jesus Christ we have our first realization of this. The only possible way to have full understanding of the teachings of Jesus is through the light of the Spirit of God shining inside us. If we have never had the experience of taking our casual, religious shoes off our casual, religious feet— getting rid of all the excessive informality with which we approach God— it is questionable whether we have ever stood in His presence. The people who are flippant and disrespectful in their approach to God are those who have never been introduced to Jesus Christ. Only after the amazing delight and liberty of realizing what Jesus Christ does, comes the impenetrable “darkness” of realizing who He is.

Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). Once, the Bible was just so many words to us — “clouds and darkness”— then, suddenly, the words become spirit and life because Jesus re-speaks them to us when our circumstances make the words new. That is the way God speaks to us; not by visions and dreams, but by words. When a man gets to God, it is by the most simple way— words.

 

I Am Redeemed!

From: Our Daily Bread

One day when Ann was visiting her husband in the hospital, she began talking with a caregiver who was assisting him. Ann enjoys engaging people in conversation wherever she is, and she also looks for ways to talk to people about Jesus. Ann asked the caregiver if he knew what he wanted to do in the future. When he said he wasn’t sure, she suggested that it’s important to know God first so He can help with such decisions. He then pulled up the sleeve of his shirt to reveal “I am redeemed!” tattooed across his arm.

They realized that they shared a mutual love for the Lord Jesus Christ! And both had found ways to show their faith in the One who died to give us life.

The title of an old song by Steve Green says it best: “People need the Lord.” It’s up to us to find ways to share “the good news” with them (Ps. 40:9). Not everyone feels comfortable talking to strangers, and there is no one-size-fits-all method. But God will use our personalities and His light in us to spread His love.

“I am redeemed!” Let’s allow God to guide us to find ways to tell others about Jesus Christ, our Redeemer!

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy—
His child, and forever I am. —Crosby
The good news of the gospel is too good to keep to ourselves.

Insight

David had been through some tough times when he wrote Psalm 40, but God had answered his cries for help and deliverance (vv.1-2,12). Testifying to God’s faithfulness, goodness, and greatness, David calls on the congregation to join him in praising God (v.16). Knowing God’s requirement that the king of Israel personally know and fully obey God’s law (v.7; see Deut. 17:18-20), David recommits himself to knowing God’s Word and doing His will (Ps. 40:8). Thousands of years later, the writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 40:6-8 and applies the words to Jesus (Heb. 10:5-7), affirming Christ’s total obedience to the Father when He came to this world as a man.


A true story of tragedy and triumph

From: Inspire21

*Author Unknown

Brothers Michael and Chris were both born in the early 1960s and grew up in a mostly black neighborhood in Richmond, California, right outside of San Francisco.

Both boys were well behaved in school and brought home mostly A’s on their report cards all through grade school.

But coming from a working-class family with eight children, money was always tight, so the boys often had to go without. In fact, things were so tight, the two growing boys were often hungry.

So they did what many boys do when they’re hungry and have no food – they stole. From the time they were five until they were well out of high school, the boys stole. They stole crackers from the cupboard in the middle of the night… they stole cookies from the grocery store… and they stole sandwiches from the sandwich shop.

If it wasn’t nailed down and was worth something, Michael and Chris would find a way to steal it. They even stole money from their parents from time to time. But more often than not, they stole to satisfy their hunger.

When it was time for Michael and Chris to attend high school, they were bused across town to Kennedy High School. It was during high school that something happened that made Chris decide to change his behavior. At the end of his freshman year in high school, Chris had received three A’s and three F’s on his report card – the first time he had failed anything in school.

Because Kennedy High School only allowed three failures over four years, one more F and Chris would be kicked out of school. That’s when he made up his mind to change. Years later Chris would recall that defining moment in his life with these words:

“I sat outside my house at the beginning of that summer knowing that I was letting my chance slip away. One more F and I’d be just another high school dropout, hanging around the neighborhood, hoping to get on with the county or to get into the service.

“At the time I didn’t know my brother Rusty would end up in prison… or that my brother Harold would die without having seen much of the world. I certainly didn’t know what would happen to Michael. I only knew that I had to get out of there. I wanted to see San Francisco every day, to pick out my own clothes, drive my own car, and be whatever a man could hope to be, not just a black man, not just a man from the flats of Richmond. I wanted no limitations. I wanted to be whatever a man could hope to be.”

Chris’ decision to change his behavior wasn’t an easy one. He took a lot of grief from his friends for choosing to excel in school, instead of squeaking by with C’s and D’s. But that decision to change took him in an entirely different direction from his brother Michael, who resisted changing his unproductive behavior.

Chris went on to graduate from high school… graduate from college… and graduate from law school. For 15 years he worked as a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles, California, prosecuting murderers, drug dealers, gang members and crooked cops. Today Chris is better known as Christopher. You probably recognize him by his full name – Christopher Darden, one of the lead prosecutors in the trial of the century, the O. J. Simpson trial!

What became of Christopher’s brother, Michael? After high school Michael joined the army and returned to his hometown shortly after his tour of duty. Back in Richmond, Michael continued his pattern of anti-social behavior – hustling in the streets… and stealing to support himself and a growing drug habit. On November 29, 1995, Michael Darden died at the age of 42… from AIDS.

This story of triumph and tragedy serves to remind us that when it’s all said and done, who we are and what we become is determined by the choices we make.

We can choose to get better… or we can choose to get bitter. Whether we make those choices to improve at age 14, like Christopher Darden… or at age 64, like Colonel Sanders, those choices have the power to dramatically increase our value in virtually everything we do.

That’s what the saying “change… or be changed” is all about. Christopher Darden changed. He changed from being a criminal… to prosecuting criminals.

He changed his attitude from being angry and sullen… to being open and accepting.

He changed from an underachiever… to an honor student who took responsibility for his grades and his education.

He changed from a disillusioned teen-ager with low self-esteem… to an optimistic young man determined to turn his dreams into reality.

His brother Michael, on the other hand, was changed. He was changed by grinding poverty… he was changed by the code of the streets … he was changed by illegal drugS… and finally, he was changed by an insidious disease.

Christopher Darden made the tough choices… he made the changes in his life that helped him accomplish his dreams.

His brother Michael, on the other hand, took the easy way out – or at least what he thought was the easy way out. He kept hanging around the same group of loser friends… he kept practicing the same self-destructive habits. As a result of the changes they did or did not make, both men chose their fates: Christopher chose to became a successful prosecutor. And Michael chose to become just another sad story of the streets.

The sobering truth is, “Either way, you pay!” The truth is the price that Michael paid for refusing to change was much higher than the price that Christopher paid for seeking to change.

I’d like to think that Michael didn’t die in vain. I’d like to think that by hearing this story, some people will finally understand the profound importance of making positive, productive changes in their lives.

When it’s all said and done, you have a choice.

You can choose to become Michael.

Or you can choose to become Christopher.

You can continue to do the things that will lead to frustration and unhappiness.

Or you can make the changes that help you get what you want most out of life.

Don’t choose to become like so many people who COULD HAVE become a millionaire… or who COULD HAVE become happier… or who COULD HAVE become healthier… or who COULD HAVE made a contribution – but didn’t. Start making the changes you need to make TODAY… so that you can become the person you want to become TOMORROW!


Don’t hope, friend… decide!

From: Inspire21

— By Michael Hargrove

While waiting to pick up a friend at the airport in Portland, Oregon, I had one of those life changing experiences that you hear other people talk about. You know, the kind that sneaks up on you unexpectedly? Well, this one occurred a mere two feet away from me! Straining to locate my friend among the passengers deplaning through the jetway, I noticed a man coming toward me carrying two light bags. He stopped right next to me to greet his family.

First, he motioned to his youngest son (maybe six years old) as he laid down his bags. They gave each other a long, and movingly loving hug. As they separated enough to look in each other’s face, I heard the father say, “It’s so good to see you, son. I missed you so much!” His son smiled somewhat shyly, diverted his eyes, and replied softly, “Me too, Dad!”

Then the man stood up, gazed in the eyes of his oldest son (maybe 9) and while cupping his son’s face in his hands he said, “You’re already quite the young man. I love you very much Zach!” They too hugged a most loving, tender hug. His son said nothing. No reply was necessary.

While this was happening, a baby girl (perhaps one or one and a half) was squirming excitedly in her mother’s arms, never once taking her little eyes off the wonderful sight of her returning father. The man said, “Hi babygirl!” as he gently took the child from her mother. He quickly kissed her face all over and then held her close to his chest while rocking her from side to side. The little girl instantly relaxed and simply laid her head on his shoulder and remained motionless in total pure contentment.

After several moments, he handed his daughter to his oldest son and declared, “I’ve saved the best for last!” and proceeded to give his wife the longest, most passionate kiss I ever remember seeing. He gazed into her eyes for several seconds and then quietly said, “I love you so much!”. They stared into each other’s eyes, beaming big smiles at one another, while holding both hands. For an instant, they reminded me of newlyweds but I knew by the age of their kids that they couldn’t be. I puzzled about it for a moment, then realized how totally engrossed I was in the wonderful display of unconditional love not more than an arm’s length away from me. I suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if I were invading something sacred, but was amazed to hear my own voice nervously ask, “Wow! How long have you two been married?”

“Been together fourteen years total, married twelve of those.” he replied without breaking his gaze from his lovely wife’s face.

“Well then, how long have you been away?” I asked. The man finally looked at me, still beaming his joyous smile and told me, “Two whole days!”

Two days?! I was stunned! I was certain by the intensity of the greeting I just witnessed that he’d been gone for at least several weeks, if not months, and I know my expression betrayed me. So, I said almost offhandedly, hoping to end my intrusion with some semblance of grace (and to get back to searching for my friend), “I hope my marriage is still that passionate after twelve years!”

The man suddenly stopped smiling. He looked me straight in the eye, and with an intensity that burned right into my soul, he told me something that left me a different person. He told me, “Don’t hope friend…decide.” Then he flashed me his wonderful smile again, shook my hand and said, “God bless!”. With that, he and his family turned and energetically strode away together.

I was still watching that special man and his exceptional family walk just out of sight when my friend came up to me and asked, “What’cha looking at?” Without hesitating, and with a curious sense of certainty, I replied, “My future!”

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